Strand III
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Life Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand III
Content Standard 1
All students will apply an understanding of cells to the functioning of multi-cellular organisms; and explain how cells grow, develop, and reproduce. (Cells)


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 1
Middle School


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 1/Middle School
Benchmark 1
Demonstrate evidence that all parts of living things are made of cells.

Benchmark Clarification

All living things / organisms are made of cell(s), the simplest unit of life. Each cell, tissue, and organ has a distinct structure and function(s). These help the organism survive. Although students are more familiar with multi-cellular organisms, most organisms are actually single-celled (such as paramecium, amoebae, bacteria).

In some multi-cellular organisms, students will:

  • Observe cells in a variety of organisms using microscopes and hand lenses
  • Describe cells in a variety of organisms
  • Demonstrate that specialized cells cooperate to form a tissue (e.g., muscle)
  • Demonstrate that tissues form organs (e.g., heart)
  • Demonstrate that organs form organ systems (e.g., circulatory system)

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Key Concept
Types of living things:

  • plants
  • animals

See specific functions (SCI.III.1.MS.2).

Parts of organisms:

  • tissues
  • organs
  • organ systems
  • all functions of organisms are carried out by cells


  • microscope
  • hand lens


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Real World Context
Common plant or animal cells:

  • Elodea leaf cells
  • onion skin cells
  • human cheek cell

Single-celled organisms:

  • paramecium
  • ameoba


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: What are cells?

Focus Question: How can we prove cells make up living things?

The class will brainstorm what they already know about cells (KWL, small group, large group discussion). Students will observe a variety of cell samples through the use of printed material, videos, multimedia, and lab explorations. Students will use a variety of scientific tools, such as microscopes and hand lenses. Students will compile a log/journal and illustrate their findings about cells from living things or once living things.

As a class, students will research how scientists have developed an understanding of cells and how they function in living things. Together, students will compile this information to develop a class timeline.

The teacher should make sure that students expand their understanding of scientific contributions to include scientists from diverse populations (cultures, ethnicity, gender). Such scientists might include the following:

Frank Young: conducted extensive research in fundamental genetics of bacteria (1931-)

Barbara McClintock: Nobel Prize Winner at age eighty-one; did research in genetics and mutations (1902- )

Ernest E. Just: studied cell physiology and understanding life itself and evolution through the study of cells (1883-1941)

Katherine Esau: an expert on plant viruses; focused on research on cells and tissues that produce food for plants (1898-)

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.MS.1), (SCI.I.1.MS.3), (SCI.I.1.MS.5).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.MS.6).



Science/Strand III/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Assessment Example

Based on all the cell samples they have observed, students will create a product providing evidence that all living things are made of cells. This presentation should also highlight one scientist from the timeline and explain his or her contributions. Students may select from a variety of presentation mediums, including illustrations, multimedia presentations, models, posters, prepared slides, or informational books. Students will present their product to the class and explain characteristics of the different cells.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Explanation of cells

Provides a vague explanation.

Provides a brief explanation.

Provides an accurate, detailed explanation.

Provides an extensive, detailed explanation.

Evidence of cells

Shows an example of a single cell.

Shows one or two examples of cells.

Shows multiple examples of cells.

Shows detailed examples of a variety of cells.

Explanation of scientific contribution

Selects a scientist, but omits the explanation of his or her contribution.

Selects a scientist and vaguely explains his or her contribution.

Selects a scientist and explains his or her contribution.

Selects more than one scientist and gives a detailed analysis of their contributions.


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 1/Middle School/Benchmark 1


Cell pictures.

Connecting with Learning: An Equity Toolkit. MDE.

Family Science.

“Looking Inside an Onion.” Microworlds.

The Lives of Plants. NEW DIRECTIONS UNIT.

Magnificent Micro-World Adventures. AIMS.

McCliRuef, Kerry. The Private Eye. The Private Eye Project, 1998.

Skin/Cells. Bill Nye Video. Disney Educational (800/295-5010)